Ferrari continued to set the pace in Sepang, with Kimi Räikkönen edging team-mate Sebastian Vettel by 0.162, to claim top spot in final practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was third, just five hundredths of a second behind Vettel.
Räikkönen’s table-topping time of 1:31.880 came late in the session after Vettel had slotted into P1 ahead of Ricciardo.
It was another inconclusive day for Mercedes, however, with Valtteri Bottas finishing fourth, almost half a second adrift of Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton ending the session in fifth place, 0.659s behind the Finn. The Briton has set the pace in the first half of the session during the longer runs and he might have finished further up the order after the qualifying sims, but he made a mistake in Turn 15 during his qualifying run and failed to improved on his time from earlier in the session.
There was a worry, too, for Ferrari at the end of the session as Vettel slowed dramatically on the final straight after he was told to stop his car. He managed to nurse his car back to the pit lane, however.
There was trouble too for Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutchman had looked less than comfortable with his car throughout the session and when he did go for a flying lap on supersofts towards the end of the session the improvement he made, to 1:32.579 left him 0.699 behind Räikkönen and almost half a second off the pace of team-mate Ricciardo.
There was no chance for Verstappen to make another attempt as late in the session he had a coming together with Jolyon Palmer in the final corner that led to the Red Bull driver suffering a puncture, while the Renault man lost the right half of his front wing.
Behind Verstappen, Sergio Perez was seventh for Force India with a time of 1:33.209 1.329s behind P1. Perez was separated from team-mate Esteban Ocon by Williams’ Felipe Massa whose best time of 1:33.240 was five hundredths of a second ahead of Ocon’s best. Tenth place in the session went to Mclaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
2017 Malaysian Grand Prix – Free Practice 3
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 19 1:31.880
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 14 1:32.042 0.162
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 16 1:32.091 0.211
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 24 1:32.329 0.449
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 20 1:32.539 0.659
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 17 1:32.579 0.699
7 Sergio Perez Force India 20 1:33.209 1.329
8 Felipe Massa Williams 20 1:33.240 1.360
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 21 1:33.290 1.410
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 16 1:33.321 1.441
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 17 1:33.530 1.650
12 Lance Stroll Williams 21 1:33.538 1.658
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas 10 1:33.787 1.907
14 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 14 1:33.871 1.991
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 22 1:33.924 2.044
16 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 24 1:34.206 2.326
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 12 1:34.475 2.595
18 Romain Grosjean Haas 19 1:34.914 3.034
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 19 1:34.936 3.056
20 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 19 1:35.045 3.165